Fast Facts:

Checking in on the Commonwealth

Remnants of Empire

The first Commonwealth Games event, which took place in Hamilton, Canada in 1930, was called the British Empire Games and started out with 400 athletes and 6 sporting categories. The most recent Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, England, has grown exponentially since its inception with more than 4 500 athletes competing across 20 sporting categories.

Source: onetwothree

Traditional school classrooms all look the same: rows of desks and chairs facing the blackboard, a teacher’s desk and chair at the front. It’s how teaching has taken place for generations – but do these spaces actually help students to learn?The short answer is no. Experts around the world have studied classroom set-ups and concluded that the traditional classroom is actually a passive space where students listen without interacting, says Shaun Fuchs, founder of Centennial Schools.Human beings by nature are not passive creatures, yet children are expected to learn while sitting passively for hours on end, he says.Simple things, like allowing students to stand while working or face their peers in a classroom, already increases their active learning.“Setting up your classroom for active learning is actually quite easy and does not require expensive, integrated technology,” Fuchs says.“All schools can implement active learning spaces to a certain extent. Taking active steps towards arranging the desks in a circle so that students can make eye-contact with each other; whiteboards and moveable chairs; in a classroom with grouped tables instead of rows, teachers can move around freely to answer students’ questions during class” Fuchs says.Even these low-tech measures have reported significant improvement in student performance. “Studies show that students in active-learning spaces outperformed those in traditional-style classrooms when the same course was taught in both settings,” Fuchs says.“Our school has taken the concept of active learning to new heights by establishing learning hubs that are fluid, active and collaborative,” he adds.Fuchs explains: “We have seamlessly integrated technology into spaces that are designed around teaching and learning, giving teachers and students the tools they need to succeed in a physical setting that promotes collaboration and supports multiple learning styles.“While connected devices are an important part of modern learning environments, audiovisual equipment and even classroom furniture are essential to creating spaces that are conducive to teaching that focuses on future-ready skills,” he says.“Perhaps the simplest example of this is the standing desk, which gives students a break from sitting all day, heightens alertness and even helps burn calories.“In the business world, adults move around throughout their workdays, going from ergonomic chairs in their offices to conference tables and quiet corners, depending on the task at hand.“It’s important that our students be allowed to do the same: for example, they have a dedicated workspace and instead of students moving every period, the teachers move, this not only saves teaching time it also keeps students focussed. Over and above that our furniture options also come equipped with USB or three-prong charging ports, helping our students to keep their devices powered up throughout the day,” he says.And the Learning Hubs have paid off, in a survey conducted by the school:Up to 70% of the students reported better grades, better attendance, or improved creativity in newly designed active learning environments.Students who use standing desks reported a 17% increase in calorie expenditure compared with those who use traditional desks.70% of parents say standing in the classroom has a positive impact on their child’s behaviour.“Classrooms should always be attractive, inviting environments that children want to spend time in,” Fuchs says. ... See MoreSee Less
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How does South Africa’s largest retail bank with over 18 million clients create a culture of giving back for the long-term? Capitec Bank has managed to mobilise its fleet of 15 000 staff members to commit to volunteerism through ongoing partner-run programmes. Just this year, they are aiming to give R53 million back to the community through various initiatives from food aid and support after the flooding in KwaZulu-Natal to their ongoing school and tutor training programmes to sustainable investments with key NGOs and NPOs such as Gift of the Givers, WWF, Meals On Wheels and others. The secret? Linking corporate social responsibility to an overarching purpose to help all South Africans to live better.Leela Moodley, Head of CSI at Capitec, says, “Volunteerism makes a major contribution on multiple levels. It’s cathartic, offering people another perspective. It plays a huge role in mental health and motivating people. It breaks job monotony with inspiring acts and ways to make a personal contribution to the country. It also aids skills development. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there’s a need to focus on emotional intelligence. Volunteering is a meaningful way to foster EQ.”Moodley – one of the founding members of the Capitec Foundation – has served on multiple boards. This has given her deep insights into how to create cultures of kindness. The approach needs to be very intentional. Here are her suggestions:It needs to come from the top: CSI needs to come from the top down, written into a business’ strategy. A ‘profit with purpose’ philosophy must be prioritised, with an emphasis on shared value.It needs to be deliberate: How a business gives back should be one of its key performance metrics, embedded at an operational level.It needs to be easy: It takes serious strategic thinking to create ongoing volunteering opportunities for 15 000 employees across the country. That commitment is essential. Capitec has key partners, like Gift of the Givers, the WWF and more, that enable it to offer its team year-long volunteerism programmes, nationwide. Staff are also given three days a year to dedicate to doing good. That’s over 360 000 hours collectively across the team.It needs to be collaborative: Many of Capitec’s initiatives are staff driven. Team members motivate to support causes they care deeply about. For example, lots of senior citizens come into the bank’s branches at pension time. Many have mobility issues. So, Capitec staff members have raised funds for wheelchairs to make the experience easier for their older clients.It needs to be its own entity: It’s very important how CSI is positioned in an organisational structure – plus, how it’s integrated across the business. It’s critical it has influence and buy-in from stakeholders at every level. It should be driven by the board and C-suite, with a dedicated owner to push the agenda and keep projects on track. For example, Capitec has a CSI team, with ambassadors in every province.It needs to be measurable: It’s crucial that the volunteerism framework is very structured, with clear baseline and end-line measurements. Capitec’s work and investment in education has been extensive – especially upskilling young people in improved numeracy and financial literacy – where it’s essential to have project plans, with defined deliverables, in place.Moodley adds, “We are seeing the evolution of business, from a strong profit focus to a profit with purpose approach. As resources get eroded and people and the planet take strain, corporates are more conscious than ever before of our impact and need to give back.“At Capitec, we are fortunate to have an innate organisational culture of kindness. That’s made it easy to roll out our volunteerism and keep the momentum going. A large part of this links back to our purpose. The drive to help people live better. All our employees share this mission and have a deep desire to make a difference on a personal level.” ... See MoreSee Less
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